Comprehensive community education is at the core of BDF’s overall mission. There is compelling evidence of the enormous literacy crisis for children of poverty, which continues to be a major problem in New Orleans eight years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A 2011 community survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 42% of New Orleans children under the age of 18 live in poverty. This far exceeds the national rate of 22%. Findings from studies examining the link between socioeconomic and school readiness have largely concluded that children living in poverty arrive at kindergarten 18 months behind their middle-class peers, and that children who start school with a disadvantage are unlikely to catch up to their classmates unless high quality early educational and developmental intervention programs are made available. BDF is working to address this need for quality early education and public education for children currently living in households at or below poverty.

The education pipeline: Educare New Orleans and KIPP Believe

Beginning at infancy – Educare New Orleans

Young children who experience the world as predictable and supportive develop strong emotional foundations essential for learning. The Educare model draws from a wide range of research-based practices that foster learning environments that support infants, toddlers and young children who are growing up in stressful, impoverished communities. Research shows that vocabulary growth among children from low-income homes lags behind that of their middle-income peers. Without intentional intervention, this gap, which is evident at 18 months of age, only continues to widen.

Family involvement in their children’s development is central to an Educare School’s mission. Activities and interactions are aimed at strengthening parents’ abilities to serve as champions for their child’s learning after they leave Educare and enter primary and secondary schools. At Educare Schools, teachers work with children – beginning in infancy and through preschool – and their parents to develop pre-literacy and early math skills such as letter and number recognition, problem solving, and counting. Equal emphasis is given to developing social-emotional skills: the ability to focus on a task, persistence, impulse control and cooperation with peers.

Full-time social workers and various consultants (e.g., speech pathologists, nurses, visiting artists) provide additional support to each family. Teachers and social workers regularly review and evaluate their success in helping children grow and learn, and adjust practices accordingly.

A unique component of the Educare model is the practice of continuity of care. Each child stays with the same team of teachers from birth to age 3. Children then move into a preschool classroom for students ages 3 to 5 with a different team of teachers. This continuity creates close bonds among children, teachers and parents, reinforcing the stable relationships essential to learning.

"To and Through” college – KIPP New Orleans Schools, KIPP Believe at Columbia Parc

KIPP New Orleans Schools is building a high quality, sustainable network of tuition free, open enrollment, college preparatory public charter schools that empowers students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in school and life. Students are accepted regardless of prior academic record, conduct or socioeconomic background. KIPP schools are public charter schools that operate in accordance with a license agreement with the national KIPP Foundation, but are fully governed locally by a group of citizen volunteers.

The KIPP Through College (KTC) program is an essential part of the KIPP education. The goal of KTC is to provide ongoing academic and organizational support to empower all KIPP alumni to achieve success in high school, in college, and also as they transition into the competitive professional world.

From KIPP’s inception, college graduation has been its "north star.” When students choose KIPP, they are choosing a commitment to academic excellence and perseverance no matter the obstacles, and in return, KIPP promises to support each student through the rigorous journey of getting to and through college. KIPP believes that its students can and will have the option to graduate from 2-year and 4-year institutions and is dedicated to providing the resources necessary to ensure they persist in climbing the mountain to and through college.

In middle school, the KIPP Through College (KTC) program begins by advising KNOS students and their families throughout the high school transition process. In high school, KNOS students and alumni receive support from College Advisors in the following areas: academic advising, standardized test preparation, summer program support, college tours, college admissions and application assistance, scholarships, and financial literacy. College Advisors guide alumni to matriculate to "the right match” college by complementing the support they receive at their high schools.

Community Support Services

Founded in 1896, Kingsley House is nationally renowned as the oldest Settlement House in the South. For more than 115 year, Kingsley House has provided children, adults, elderly and families throughout the greater New Orleans area with a comprehensive continuum of innovative and creative programs and services. Kingsley House’s mission, "Kingsley House educates children, strengthens families and builds community," is the driving force, which remains even more vital in the aftermath of the Hurricanes, the BP Oil Spill and the current economic challenges. Kingsley House’s role within the Bayou District footprint is two-fold –

1. Kingsley House provides the on-site community support services for the residents of Columbia Parc. They were originally charged with connecting with the former St. Bernard Project residents to determine their current status and if interested in returning, providing resources and support to ensure a successful transition into Columbia Parc.

2. Kingsley House is the managing partner of the Educare of New Orleans early learning facility. They have assisted in developing and implementing two temporary sites for 80 pre-K children. These children transitioned into the Educare New Orleans facility when it opened in 2013.


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